Grindhouse (Spoilers included)
--Review By Fiona Young-Brown--
We went to see Grindhouse last night at the Kentucky, a wonderful old restored movie theater here in Lexington.
Now before I give you my thoughts about the movie(s), this is MY opinion. I welcome others' opinions but don't write just to tell me "You're wrong." Also, if you haven't seen the movie yet and want to, there are spoilers here so don't read and then complain I gave it away.
We didn't get to see the much touted preview for the upcoming Rob Zombie Halloween remake which disappointed Nic. So far, I have been less than impressed by any attempts to remake John Carpenter movies. The Fog is one of the best movies ever made in my book and the remake was... I won't go there. The remake of Assault on Precinct 13 was similarly blekhhhhh. So message to Rob Zombie - don't mess with the seminal horror movie of all time.
Getting back to Grindhouse. It opens with a mock preview and this is one thing I loved. The mock previews were all so good. I'd watch them. Machete starring Danny Trejo. Over the top. Violent and funny. Why wasn't this one of the Grindhouse movies?
We start with Planet Terror, Robert Rodriguez's contribution, and in my opinion, the much better of the two movies. If you like old zombie b-movies (is there any other kind?) you will love this. The small town near a military base, the go-go dancer trying to start a new life, her old love, etc. I don't eve know what to say about this except IT WAS SO COOL!!!!! Rose McGowan totally kicked ass. I had been waiting to see this ever since I saw previews of her leaping through the air shooting people with a machine gun leg. Heck, it made me want one! Freddy Rodriguez was awesome (and very easy on the eyes), and I'm always happy to see Michael Biehn get work (he's always been underrated and this is where I half-shamefully admit to loving Navy Seals. It was extremely violent, gory in a funny "limbs flying everywhere" kind of way, and just a fun, fun movie. I'll even forgive Rodriguez for allowing Quentin Tarantino to have a part in it (he's so convinced he can act). Just see this movie. I want to see it again. And don't complain about the cheesy ending. It's meant to be cheesy. That's the point!
Time for more "previews" and again, these are fun. If Werewolf Women in the SS were made, you know it would be in Nic's movie collection.
And then the second movie - Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. Now here's my thing with Tarantino. I loved Pulp Fiction when it came out. I liked Jackie Brown. Kill Bill is fantastic. Now shut up and go take up a new hobby. I wanted to like Death Proof. It has a great premise. It starts out well. Admittedly, Jungle Julia is a bitch for the way she sets up her friend Arlene / Butterfly, but the bar sequence is good. Tarantino pops up again because his ego is so huge he thinks everyone adores him but I could live with it. Now, being the picky person I am, and since Tarantino prides himself so much on his obscure cultural references, Jungle Julia is a DJ, and goes on and on about this one song. She loves it so much, she knows trivia about the band's history. So why does she get the name of the band wrong? It's Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, MICK and Tich sweetheart. That just niggled me more than I can explain, but I digress....
Stuntman Mike is a psycho. He kills Rose McGowan's character and then causes a horrific crash, killing all four women in the car. Flash to the hospital where the sheriff is convinced Mike is somehow responsible but can't prove it. I'm enjoying it so far. And then it all goes south.
Tarantino's ego gets the better of him and he goes off on his own little tangent and half the people in the audience love it because he could do a movie for three hours about a shopping list and some people would love it. I got bored. We switch to four other girls, including Rosario Dawson (how can a woman go from looking so hot sometimes to so not at others?), and stuntwoman Zoe Bell in her first acting role. Technically, playing yourself is not acting. It was just annoying.
Now we enter the segment of the evening where you can go to the bathroom, get a drink, in fact walk to the bar down the street and order yourself a couple of drinks and a basket of wings. Eat them in a leisurely fashion and then stroll back to the theater for the ending. It's OK. You won't have missed anything... except the reason for my rant.
Tarantino didn't bother to create characters for this movie. He just put himself into every single character. So we now have to endure half an hour or so of the four girls sitting in a diner talking. My first thought was WTF! Am I suddenly in a different movie? Now I know people have been posting on the IMBD that this was so realistic and women really do talk like this. No women I have ever known or met. This was guys talking. Tarantino didn't write strong female characters for this movie. This was no Bride from Kill Bill. This was four guys with tits. This is how he thinks women talk. Furthermore, I don't mind a movie with a lot of good dialog that is relevant to the plot. This wasn't relevant. It didn't build up any empathy for them as characters. It made them annoying as hell. These "strong, feminist" women then drive out to test drive a car which they do by leaving the fourth girl on an isolated farm with redneck farmer guy, having told him that she's a porn star. How empowered! They set up their friend to be molested. It seems to be a trend in the movie that Tarantino has each group of girlfriends set one of them up to be sexually humiliated. This is the point I decided he's really a sexist prick.
From here on, we watch the remaining three drive the car and it becomes a showcase for Zoe Bells stuntwoman skills. Again, she's a talented stuntwoman but it drags. I get the point - she can hang on a car. And oh, here comes Stuntman Mike in a car chase and she can still hang on. By the way, at some point in the movie and for no apparent reason, we've jumped from Austin, TX to rural Tennessee.
I am no stuntwoman, but the character driving the car is supposed to be. So why when she's being rammed in the side by Stuntman Mike, does it never occur to her to slam on the brakes? We could have been spared half of this scene, but then those of you who took my advice and went to the bar down the road wouldn't have time to finish your wings.
What follows is a predictable ending - girls turn tables, chase Mike and beat him presumably to death. Yeah - I never saw that coming. Yeah - so empowered. Yeah - we left our friend to be molested and assaulted somewhere. And people started clapping and talking about how Tarantino is a genius and how anyone who doesn't like him is just ignorant. Bite me. He used to be clever. Now he's boring and predictable, but still thinking he's clever.
So, to cut a very long rant short - Planet Terror - go see. Watch the previews - they're fun. Enjoy the first part of Death Proof. Then... I'll leave you to choose while I head off to get a drink and watch Kill Bill.